The Internet can be a strange place. It’s probably the only place where cats talk but spell incorrectly and a banana can dance to music about a beloved childhood sandwich.
Chat rooms across the Web have latched onto the more unusual pictures, phrases and videos and turned them into phenomena. The Oracle staff waded through some of the more popular Internet memes to discover their origins and where they can be found.
Chuck Norris jokes
American actor Chuck Norris greatly influenced entertainment, starring in numerous martial arts movies and his TV show Walker, Texas Ranger.
However, Norris is almost as famous for the random facts about his life people post online, which started at Chucknorrisfacts.com. Of course, these “facts” are all fictional, and they play off Norris’ rough-and-tough demeanor, but he’s commented on finding them funny, and even chosen his favorites on the Web site.
Chucknorrisfacts.com is completely dedicated to informing fans that “Chuck Norris counted to infinity – twice,” and “When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks the closet for Chuck Norris,” among many other random facts.
This Internet meme has been a huge hit that developed in the past decade, both on and offline.
The cake is a lie
For gamers, the term “the cake is a lie” may bring memories of an unexpected twist at the end of the game, Portal. In this game, the character Chell faces a series of puzzles and mazes for the promise of cake waiting at the end. After figuring out how to work the portals to her advantage, Chell finds out the promise of cake has been a lie.
A good number of the players find the final dialogue very funny and have told many people who didn’t play the game about it, making this a well-known joke between gamers and non-gamers alike.
This phrase is now used as an everyday term to warn people not to get their hopes up for a prize or a reward.
Kikia was the first in a series of flash videos called screamers. Now usually spread by e-mails as a prank, screamers, like Kikia, begin as a calm video or a picture with a narrative that tells you to look closely and turn up the volume.
One form even comes as a flash maze. At some point during the video or maze, a frightening image will pop up for a brief second accompanied by a shriek that’s usually enough to startle the unlucky viewers out of their chairs.
Kikia, which starts off as a video of a boy pondering life, inspired the shock flash videos that circulate the Internet now. They are still a popular prank on chat rooms and around Halloween, so be prepared before following any link to what appears to be a happy video.
Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami, creators of the well known Web site, icanhascheezburger.com, started out making their cats as inside jokes before making them available for people outside of Honolulu.
It started in January 2007 when Nakagawa was telling Unebasami about his bad day at work. To make him feel better, she sent him a picture of a “happy cat” – the first “lolcat.”
Due to the demand on their original site slowly crowding their server, they were forced to speak with its owner, Ben Huh, a Seattle businessman. In September 2007, Huh bought the site and saved it from closing, according to wired.com.
Since then, it has spawned sites like failblog.com and punditkitchen.com, a political LOLcat Web site.
Last January, Nakagawa and Unebasami hit it big, scoring a book deal, A LOLcat Colleckshun, with Gotham Books. More than a year after the release of I Can Has Cheezburger, images or grammatically incorrect cats are still being created and spreading through the Internet like wildfire.
There you are, checking your e-mail or Facebook, and the link shows up.
Even though the preface of the message may say something about President Barack Obama or the stumbling economy, the link goes to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” 1987 music video.
It’s called “rickrolling.”
It’s the oldest trick in the book: make the person think they’re going to a completely different link, and then surprise them with those sensational sunglasses and that pressed red hair. Like many Internet phenomena, it started on 4chan.org’s chat rooms where someone posted Astley’s video, claiming it was a trailer for the game Grand Theft Auto IV.
This meme climaxed in popularity when Rick Astley personally “rickrolled” the Macy’s Day Parade.
The next time you’re looking to brighten up someone’s day, send them a Rickroll. As the song says, “It’s never going to let you down.”
Nature photographer John White snapped a photo of a Snow Owl in February 2001 that has sense become a popular meme after a member of 4chan.org tacked the Internet slang “O RLY?” onto it, according to knowyourmeme.com.
The phrase “O RLY?” was initially used on Something Awful, a comedic Web site owned by Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka, according to knowyourmeme.com. It’s a response to something lame or unbelievable usually followed by “YA RLY.”
When paired with the owl’s cocked head, it became an Internet hit. It’s not uncommon to find the picture posted throughout chat threads full of sarcastic and disbelieving posters.
The dancing banana originated from the music video of the popular song, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” created in 2000 by the Buckwheat Boyz. Although the dancing banana is irrelevant to peanut butter and jelly, both the trendy song and character quickly became well-known to the World Wide Web.
Approximately a year later, the dancing banana became an Internet sensation as a popular flash video, avatar and emoticon animation. The “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” music video spurred several Internet spin-off and spoof videos and dances.
This Internet phenomenon has also made its way to television and has been featured in both Family Guy – when Brian tries to cheer up Peter by wearing a banana costume and singing the song – and on the NBC sitcom, Ed.
Today, the dancing banana can be found in over 4,000 YouTube videos and has even developed into costume merchandise.
All your base are belong to us
Video games are translated for U.S. gamers all the time, but in one memorable mistranslation, the figure called CATS materializes on screen in the beginning of the Sega game Zero Wing and said this grammatically incorrect phrase.
Since its utterance in 1991, the phrase has been used in various forms – “base” being replaced with any number of words. T-shirts were already being made by the time Wired magazine covered the phenomenon in 2001. Even YouTube showed a sense of humor when they posted “All your videos are belong to us” while doing site maintenance in 2006.
It’s even been used to declare geeky affection. As one popular nerdy love poem goes:
Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
All my base
Are belong to you